‘Net News: 7th May 2012

1. A New Approach to School Discipline

I may sound like a late-night TV commercial (New! Improved! It really works!), but if you haven’t yet read the article about Lincoln High School in the US, it is well worth your time – this school has taken a new approach with troubled students, based on the effects of toxic stress.

Children with toxic stress live their lives in fight, flight or fright (freeze) mode. They respond to the world as a place of constant danger. They can fall behind in school, fail to develop healthy relationships with peers, or develop problems with authority because they are unable to trust adults. With failure, despair, and frustration pecking away at their psyche, they find solace in food, alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamines, inappropriate sex, high-risk sports, and/or work. They don’t regard these coping methods as problems. They see them as solutions to escape from depression, anxiety, anger, fear and shame.

… Replace punishment, which doesn’t work, with a system to give kids tools so that they can learn how to recognize their reaction to stress and to control it. “We need to teach the kids how to do something differently if we want to see a different response.”

… Kids need adults they can count on, who they know will not hurt them, and who are there to help them learn these new skills, Turner tells the Lincoln High staff. If it’s not happening at home, it had better happen at school. Otherwise that teen doesn’t have much of a chance at life.

2. Text Publishing Supporting Footpath Library

TPC_logoLBFblack_reasonably_smallThis week Text Publishing (who’ve brought you books by many fabulous YA authors including David Levithan, Vikki Wakefield, Leanne Hall, and Tim Pegler) are donating a book to the Footpath Library for every new follower they get on Twitter, and ‘like’ on facebook.

The Footpath Library aims to bring books to the homeless and disadvantaged, as well as changing attitudes to these people.

Get click-happy for a good cause!

3. Sydney Writers’ Festival

The festivities start next week in Sydney! You may be interested in:

4. Sim, Interrupted

‘A light-hearted look at how mental illness is portrayed in videogames.’ (Caution: adult language.) This blog certainly makes for some perky lunch-time reading, but we’re curious to hear your thoughts on the matter…

Games truly exploring the inner-struggle with depression, cripplingly-low self-esteem or worthlessness are few and far between, especially when compared to other artistic mediums. Understandably so, with many considering games belonging squarely to the “for fun” category.

Can there be (should there be?) video games that explore mental illness? Does any portrayal of mental illness need to be serious rather than light-hearted?

Update 8/5/2012: In related news, The University of Auckland has developed SPARX – a game designed to teach young people suffering from depression ways they can manage and overcome their condition.

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5. Miles Franklin Award shortlist announced

Last week the shortlist for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award was announced. Did your favourite make the cut?

We’re glad that for the first time in five years, and in a year seeking to raise awareness of Australian women writers, the majority of shortlisted authors are women. We think Miles would be proud.

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